Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe, 1760-1970

Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe, 1760-1970

Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe, 1760-1970

Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe, 1760-1970

Excerpt

It is perhaps best to start with some words of warning on what this book is not about. It is, above all, not a comprehensive economic history of Europe, of the kind that would set out to present a balanced account of the past two hundred years in which each development which might conceivably be termed economic, and each country or region, received its due share of attention. It is, on the contrary, concerned solely with the process of industrialization, as it alights here or there in Europe, transforming and being transformed by the changing geographical setting and historical sequence in which it occurs. This means, on the one hand, that once a country or region is industrialized, it fades from these pages, except in so far as it affects the industrialization of others. It also means that the industrialization of Europe is seen as a single, and not a repetitive, process.

The process started in Britain and the industrialization of Europe took place on the British model; it was, as far as the Continent was concerned, a purely and deliberately imitative process. Even after the 1860s, when technological and organizational innovations came increasingly from other advanced countries also, and the continuing process could correctly be described as European or even as North Atlantic, to include the growing impact of North American originality, it was still a development from the base of the British model. Whether an alternative model might have been possible is no doubt an interesting question, but it is a basic tenet of this book that Europe's industrialization occurred as an outgrowth of a single root with mutations caused by varying circumstances.

The essential core of the process described here was technological, consisting of a better way of producing things or the production of new things. Some of the technical innovations brought with them necessarily some other changes: factories, large concentrations of capital, new forms of labour discipline. These are considered here, but only in so far as they were an essential part of the basic technological transformation. This may seem to be a narrow way of describing the process of industrialization, too slight to carry the momentous transformation of Europe which is the theme of this book. But the European world was, over most of the period described here, a . . .

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